- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

If the meteorologists are correct, this weekend ought to bring a smile to even the biggest sourpuss in the land. The sun will shine, and temperatures should be in the 60s.

With that in mind, get ready to see a crowd of people along Southern Maryland’s Wicomico River at Allen’s Fresh on Route 234 in Charles County. Only three anglers were seen there Monday, but one of them scored nicely on the yellow perch.

If there are large numbers of perch at the “Fresh,” as the locals call it, they will take live minnows, grass shrimp, 2-inch yellow or chartreuse plastic grubs, tiny shad darts fished three or four feet under a bobber. But also be prepared for disappointment. The Allen’s Fresh perch sometimes hang around a couple of weeks, and then there are years when they arrive and depart all within two or three days.

The water temperature has been around 41 degrees. That might quickly trigger a spawning run, although normally 45 or 46 degrees are called for. One thing is certain: It’s way late for the perch to show up. They should have been here before the end of February. Go figure.

Perch also are hooked, albeit in small numbers, in the upper Patuxent River around Hill’s Bridge on the line between Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. One angler said: “I actually hooked more catfish than perch on my bait minnows.”

Bass bite will start — If you carefully work a lure around the dropoffs and channels between Wilson Bridge and the Fox Ferry rock line, including the Spoils Cove on the Maryland side of the Potomac, there will be some willing bass that will look at a Mann’s Sting Ray grub, a jig’n’pig, a dropshot rig that holds a 3- or 4-inch finesse worm, a Silver Buddy or even a spinnerbait or crankbait.

Bass also will show up just below Belle Haven Cove on the sharply declining gravel points and channel ledges and inside Mattawoman Creek wherever you find deep water close to the shallows.

Virginia crappies and bass — Crappies and bass have been hooked in all of the big Virginia reservoirs, including Anna, Gaston, Kerr and Smith Mountain. However, this isn’t easy fishing — yet. You must find brush piles, sunken wood, dropoffs, channel ledges or deepwater boat dock pilings to see action.

Nearby Occoquan Reservoir in Prince William and Fairfax counties will open to the public Saturday, March 18 at 6 a.m., just in time for some pretty good bass, crappie and catfish action.

Chesapeake’s early rockfish — Smart bouncers of bottom jigs, chrome spoons, metal squids, Sassy Shads and bucktails can score on the rockfish that hang around in the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant discharge waters. An expert at this kind of fishing is light tackle charter fishing captain “Walleye” Pete Dahlberg. Only the unrelenting recent winds have kept “Walleye” Pete from being there every day, but if it doesn’t blow, he will be there. If you’re interested in this type of catch-and-release fishing, call him at 703/395-9955.

Striper seasons — The 2006 Maryland trophy striper fishing season will run from April 15 to May 15 with a minimum size limit of 33 inches for the recreational and charterboat fishery. Also, Maryland licensing agents will be asking those who buy fishing licenses whether they will be going after trophy rockfish. The DNR plans to mail survey forms to those anglers to help provide an estimate of the numbers of the big fish that were caught during the spring season.

In Virginia waters, the coastal trophy season runs from May 1 to May 15, with the spring season for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries scheduled for May 16 through June 15. Minimum size is 32 inches, one fish a day.

Could Shad arrive early? — A Virginia fisheries biologist said: “You know the hickory shad always get here well before most anglers think [they do] … and with the mild winter, there may be some action in a week or two.” That means the Fredericksburg area of the Rappahannock and the Potomac up around Fletcher’s Boat House need to be watched.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com.

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